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"Transformer" was chosen by judge Maggie Smith as the 2020 publication in The Word Works Press's Hilary Tham Collection imprint. About the book, Smith said: "The title 'Transformer' invokes electricity and change, and this collection absolutely crackles with both. The poems are concerned with memory and trauma, violence and vulnerability, the domestic and the wild.
"I want all these lambs / to escape being mutton, " the poet writes, and yet we know what will happen to so many lambs, so many sisters and daughters, so many mothers and children. How do we live with our fear — "a dense & solid thing / she knows must fit inside her brain / despite its size?" How do we see what we see, know what we know, feel what we feel, and live? The world of 'Transformer' is one where survival requires transformation; in other words, it is this world."
"This world is full of knives and slaps, slammed doors and cruel words. We see these ominous shadows and drips of terror in Kathleen Winter's depictions of childhood memories and medieval paintings, written even in the dry bones described at the edges of the archaeologists' digs. It can seem there is no escape, but the poems in 'Transformer' are spells to bind this violence. These are poems for a new wave of activism, one rooted in telling the truth, in demanding to be believed, in tearing down a silent wall of fear one line at a time."
"Winter moves between the past and the present by magically weaving moments from her own life with those of figures like Henry VIII, John the Baptist, Wolfgang Beurer and Hieronymus Bosch. Winter takes us on an odyssey that migrates from the Sonoma to the Pazyryk Valley to Zurich to Maryland to Italy's Ligurian Riveria to the Rhode Island Sound. Just as the poems travel through cities and countries, so too do they venture through a vast terrain of poetic forms and an array of emotional landscapes. 'Transformer' is a masterpiece of literary accomplishment."